Salt and Straw Ice Cream, the Chef Series | CookingDistrict.com

Salt and Straw Ice Cream, the Chef Series

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If our twitter feed was to be believed, the Cooking District team were amongst the few food folks not in Portland, Oregon this past weekend for FEAST Portland. While we were sad to be missing what seemed to be an amazing inaugural event in one of our favorite food cities, we had good reason to be home working hard. We consoled ourselves and fought our feelings of longing in the time honored tradition of rom-com heroines everywhere by reaching into the freezer for some ice cream. Salt and Straw ice cream to be specific.

We've waxed rhapsodic about Salt and Straw before, naming them as one of our 10 Food Trends We Liked in 2011. The farm-to-cone ice creamery uses natural dairy from the happy, grass-fed cows Lochmead Dairy in nearby Eugene to churn out innovative and sometimes audacious flavors like brown ale with chunks of bacon, a sweet pear with salty blue cheese, a retro cocktail party inspired baked brie with fig jam, melon with super-thin tangles of prosciutto, goat cheese with sweet (and local) marionberries and hot habaneros. Co-founders and cousins Kim and Tyler Malek are all about the Portland spirit of craft and collaboration and use most ingredients from local Oregon businesses — that charcuterie comes from Olympic Provisions, the blue cheese hails from Rogue Creamery, the fig spread is made by local artisanal preservationists Pink Slip Jam and the pears, berries, fresh hazelnuts and habaneros are harvested from Oregon farms.

Their latest group of flavors is even more of a reflection of Portland's unique culinary scene. The Maleks headed into the kitchens of five of Portland’s top restaurants and challenged the chefs to collaborate and create an ice cream flavor that shows off the individual style and unique tastes from their restaurant. The results were Salt & Straw’s first ever Chefs Series, a group of five limited edition flavors, released one per month. Chefs Naomi Pomeroy and Mika Paredes of Beast used chocolate coated feuilletine — crispy crepe flakes — to add sweetness and crunchy texture to a deeply smoked salt infused ice cream. The team at Aviary created a toasted coconut ice cream studded with cracked sesame toffee and boysenberry ginger jam. Boke Bowl went for an Asian inspired ice cream with Kaffir Lime leaf and lemongrass ice cream with ribbons of fish sauce caramel. That's right, fish sauce caramel, which is a little bit of a revelation — sweet, salty and with ever so slight fleeting moments of funk. Our favorite might just be the current month's flavor from Chef Gregory Denton at Ox who wanted a reincarnation of his winning savory dish at last year's Wild About Game competition: toasted foie gras marshmallows and smoked vanilla ice cream run through with ribbons with veal chocolate sauce and hazelnut graham cracker crumble. Veal and foie in an ice cream and it totally works. You don't have to be in Portland to try these or any of Salt and Straw's flavors, they will ship nationwide. Which should tide us over until next year's Feast.

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